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Trump, and now Nikki Haley, are telling us that “the world” respects the United States and Trump. America is “respected again.”

That’s baloney.

Here is a chart that shows confidence that the U.S. president will do the “right thing” regarding world affairs. The countries shown are Spain, France, Germany and the U.K.

Clearly, Obama was respected, and Trump is lower than Bush. It says nothing about how Americans feel, or what’s good for America. It says something about how other countries “respect” the American president. This must irk Trump, to whom it matters so much what others think. This is probably why he denigrates Obama so much. He is obsessed with Obama and does not understand why he cannot garner the same respect and admiration.

Respect must be earned. It can’t be gained by making outrageous – and false – claims.

Trump lives is a world of his own wishful thinking.

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Did you know that the United States has 883 military bases in 183 counties?

Check this out:

The US military has a staggering 883 military bases in 183 countries. In contrast, Russia has 10 such bases – eight of them in the former USSR. China has one overseas military base. There is no country with a military footprint that replicates that of the United States. The bases in Japan are only a small part of the massive infrastructure that allows the US military to be hours away from armed action against any part of the planet.

There is no proposal to downsize the US military footprint. In fact, there are only plans to increase it. The United States has long sought to build a base in Poland, whose government now courts the White House with the proposal that it be named “Fort Trump.”

Currently, there are US-NATO military bases in Germany, Hungary and Bulgaria, with US-NATO troops deployments in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The United States has increased its military presence in the Black Sea and in the Baltic Sea.

Attempts to deny Russia access to its only two warm-water ports in Sevastopol, Crimea, and Latakia, Syria, pushed Moscow to defend them with military interventions. A US base in Poland, on the doorstep of Belarus, would rattle the Russians as much as they were rattled by Ukraine’s pledge to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and by the war in Syria.

These US-NATO bases provide instability and insecurity rather than peace. Tensions abound around them. Threats emanate from their presence.

— AsiaTimes

No wonder we spend more on the military than the next 10 countries combined! No wonder Trump complains that other countries are using us “for their protection” without paying us back for that.

I hate to do this, but I actually agree with Trump. Our country is insane with its military. Do we really need 883 military bases all over the world?

Could we maybe make do with 100 or so?

Or 101 – I think Trump will want his “Fort Trump,” won’t he?

Oh, my tax dollars at work!

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If I was a guest at your house for a backyard BBQ party and

  • I mocked your father or grandfather who was a prisoner of war?
  • I mocked your disabled child by making spastic movements?
  • I mocked your neighbor’s family who lost a son in Afghanistan?
  • I mocked your daughter who had been sexually assaulted?

You would throw me out and I would likely no longer be your friend – at best.

And yet, here is our president doing exactly those things on national TV, and the people standing behind him laugh and applaud and act like this is funny.

It would be horrendous if I did it as a private citizen. You would throw me out and beat me up.

But here is the man who holds the office that we teach our schoolchildren they should look up to as a role model, and we accept it.

It destroys the dignity of the presidency, and it may take generations before the image and decorum recovers.

I don’t know exactly what the people standing behind Trump laughing and applauding really think deep inside. But I know that I think that Trump is a despicable human being, one that I will try to forget about quickly once he is voted out of office.

I also don’t know exactly what the Republican leadership, all those men and women that ran against Trump in the campaign, are thinking. I remember Rubio and Cruz saying that it was our duty to make sure that Trump never got anywhere near the Oval Office.

Really – damn their careers – one or more of these cowards need to stand up, man up, and do what they know is right, and do what they are really thinking inside, and end this national disgrace of a reality show of a country.

We need to take our country back.

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When the Soviet Union collapsed almost 30 years ago, the assets of the country, its industrial base that had been neglected so long, was grabbed up by a few young, enterprising, creative and possibly criminal individuals. Some say there were less than twenty of them. They, and their successors, are now called the Russian oligarchs. The majority of the economic power of the Russian nation is consolidated by very few people, all under control of the central government, which is headed by an apparently corrupt and possibly murderous leader: Putin. Russia, in my opinion, is a nation state run by organized crime.

In the United States we were better than that. However, in the recent couple of years I see very similar developments. Radical deregulation is fueling the stock market, which is not a surprise. The Obama regulatory environment had throttled the economy. One can argue one way or the other. I personally believe that while we’re riding high on the economy right now, and while the super rich are getting richer, the middle class is doing “just ok.” A tax saving of a few hundred dollars funds one more trip to Costco, which is not a huge improvement for the middle class. But eventually our children and their children will regard the Trump era as a time when their fathers enriched themselves forcing them to pay the bills. The reckoning for today’s boom time will come.

We’re also massively adding to the national debt now. The debt payments are about to exceed our military expenses. While the conservative world was furious when Obama added to the debt, now it does not even get mention. All of a sudden, the debt is not important. After all, the economy is so great, it’s going to pay for it all. I do not believe this is going to work, but only time will tell.

Meanwhile, the buffoon in the White House is overloading us with so many scandals, we can’t even focus on them anymore. When Obama wore a tan suit, the media went crazy for a few days. When Michelle Obama wore a sleeveless dress, she was castigated. There are nude pictures of our current First Lady on the Internet and nobody seems to take note. We were not numb to scandals, and the media needed something to write about.

Trump does outrageous things every day that my moral compass that does accept. However, there is so much, the list is so long, it’s drowned out. While we’re not able to pay attention, the billionaire class, some of them in the White House and Cabinet, are openly lining their own pockets with corrupt activities, every day. The country is being looted and polluted. The American tax payer is being raped. And we are numb.

An oligarchy is quickly forming, where a very small number of very rich people control the entire economy and the political system.

Is that making America great?

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Here is a tweet by Donald Trump in 2014:

Then, against all odds, our next president would be Donald Trump. When he spoke to the United Nations for the second year, he claimed in the opening paragraphs of his address:

In less than two years my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.

The room erupted in giggles and laughter. Trump later claimed that they were not laughing at him, but with him:

What Trump does not seem to understand is that the way people respond in a Trump rally is not representative of what the country thinks of him, and certainly not the world.

A Trump rally is filled with ardent supporters. We recently found out that the people standing behind him are actually carefully selected and if anyone ever does not react the way Trump would expect they actually remove and replace him.

The United States encompasses only about 5% of the world’s population. Trump’s base that voted for him was 62 million people. Today, his base is generally measured at about 30% of the U.S. electorate. The average IQ of the U.S. electorate is, by definition, average or about 100. I am not suggesting that the average IQ of Trump supporters is any lower, but I am saying it is not likely any higher than 100, either.

At his rallies, Trump is used to people cheering to his every utterance, no matter how false, stupid, purposely misleading, or incendiary. It’s the people that want to hear that stuff that go to his rallies, so of course, his worldview of what people think about him is distorted.

I have traveled out of the country since Trump took office, and I can say with certainty that I have not yet met a SINGLE foreign person who supports Trump or is impressed with him. Most laugh at him and ask me whether I am embarrassed by the buffoon. The vast majority of 95% of the world’s population think he is an embarrassment to our nation.

And make no mistake about this: it was the opposite with Obama, no matter what Trump thinks or thought. The world loved and respected Obama.

Now enter the hall of the United Nations. The people in the audience are highly trained diplomats or even heads of state, and their aides and assistants. They are the best and brightest who rose to the pinnacle of power and influence in their own countries to eventually be ambassadors at the United Nations. I would carefully guess that the average IQ in a United Nations assembly is well over 150, or genius level, which is far beyond Trump, no matter how big he says his brain is.

Unfortunately for Trump, at the United Nations he is definitely not the smartest person in the room, as he thinks he is when he is surrounded by his followers. Whether some of these people he is talking to are from shithole countries (his words) or not, they will far outclass him, both in intellect, in morality, and definitely in education.

So when they hear ‘In less than two years my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,’ they will crack up.

I would.

 

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Fear tells the story of the Trump White House. The book is exactly what I expected it to be. Narrated without any hyperbole, Woodward tells the story of what was going on behind the scenes of the Trump campaign and his first year in the White House. It’s like we are flies on the wall, listening to what everyone is saying.

There are no accusations, there is no name-calling, there are no interpretations. The reaction of Trump and his people when the book first came out was way over the top of what the book actually deserves.

I read nothing that I didn’t already know, but having it laid out in front of me helped corroborate my opinions.

Woodward never interprets for the reader what’s going on. He simply reports. Of course, I wondered how in the world he was able to pull all this detail together, but I know he has hundreds of hours of interviews recorded and the meticulously cross-references and double-checks quotes before he uses them. As the reader, I get to draw my own conclusions.

I already knew that Trump is terribly concerned about what people think about him, the way he looks, and how he appears. He is obsessed about looking weak, and it drives his actions. He is a dilettante, a real estate salesman who is in way over his head, and he knows it, and that’s why he is so insecure.

Cohn wrote a joke for Trump to use at the Gridiron Dinner: “We’ve made enormous progress on the wall. All the drawings are done. All the excavating’s done. All the engineering is done. The only thing we’ve been stumbling with is we haven’t been able to figure out how to stretch the word ‘Trump’ over 1,200 miles.” Trump wouldn’t use it.

Woodward, Bob. Fear: Trump in the White House (pp. 175-176). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

Fear is a must-read book by one of the most preeminent journalists of our time. It reads like a novel, and as I turned the pages I kept telling myself that this is real, that what is going on is affecting all of us, now, every day, and in some areas for generations to come.

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I am currently reading Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward, and much to my surprise, I have come across quite a few passages where I find myself agreeing with Trump.

For instance, he was a staunch adversary of our “endless” war in Afghanistan. As far back as in March 2012, he tweeted: Afghanistan is a total disaster. We don’t know what we are doing. They are, in addition to everything else, robbing us blind.” Then in 2013: “Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.”

When he was president, Trump was tired of his generals and their “plans.” He wanted to hear from soldiers on the ground. He called several soldiers, non-officers, to the White House and asked them what was going on in Afghanistan. Here is what he came away with:

“Unanimous. We’ve got to figure out how to get the fuck out of there. Totally corrupt. The people are not worth fighting for… NATO does nothing. They’re a hindrance. Don’t let anybody tell you how great they are. It’s all bullshit.”

— Fear: by Bob Woodward, page 123-124

I agree with every word above. If I were in the White House, I would also force my team to come up with a way to get the fuck out, and fast. It pains me to see American cash, our taxes, to be passed around by the handfuls to Afghan warlords who are taking our money and think we are idiots. I cringe when I think about American soldiers getting killed there — not for our freedom, not to defend our country, but for the bullshit we have allowed ourselves to get sucked into. This is very wrong and it needs to change.

We are idiots.

Now there is some Trump news we don’t get on the Rachel Maddow show. Thanks, Bob Woodward!

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The president spends a quarter of his time in office playing golf, after stating during the campaign that he would not have time to play golf, he’d be too busy working for the country.

Please note that Air Force One costs over $200,000 per flight hour. So when the president travels to Florida, and the trip takes two and a half hours, that’s a half a million dollars each way.

Of course, the plane was just as expensive when Obama and Bush traveled in it. No difference there. But this president has told veterans that we need more cuts to VA programs and we can’t give federal workers COLA raises, because we need to save the nation’s money.

 

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Everyone Suddenly Lies

Have you noticed that since the age of Trump, everyone lies.

The entire “main stream media” makes up stores and lies. The journalists at rallies are dishonest and disgusting people. The authors of books are all making up fictitious stories. Former Trump staff members plead guilty to felonies without trials and then make up stories to make the president look bad.

Since about the summer of 2016, everyone is dishonest everyone lies, and only one person tells the truth: Donald Trump.

Yeah, that all makes perfect sense.

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So let me get this straight: Two Republican congressmen were charged by the government for felonies. This is what our law enforcement is supposed to do. They have sworn an oath to defend the laws. But our president ridicules the attorney general he himself installed, for doing the job he is supposed to do. He insinuates that Sessions should have obstructed justice because the two congressmen were Republicans at a time the Republican party needs all the votes it can get.

The American people need to know their Justice Department is fair, unbiased and upholds the laws. The president however, makes is blatantly clear that he not only does not care about law and order, but that the laws don’t apply to Republicans (because he needs them) and to him.

This is how a mob boss acts, not an elected official, not an American president, and I, for one, am disgusted.

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I was working today at the offices of the State of Ohio on the south side of the Columbus airport. One of the state workers asked me at 2:00pm when my plane was leaving. Around 5:30, I said. The office is literally about a 7-minute drive from the terminal, so I usually leave around 4:30 with plenty of time to make it through security before boarding.

She said I’d better leave quickly, since they’d close the roads out front. Trump was due to arrive at the airport at 3:30 for a fundraiser and dinner at 5:00 downtown Columbus.

One I arrived at the terminal, I got my first ever live view of Air Force One on the tarmac of the Columbus airport.

Off to the side was this other huge Air Force transport.

Sorry about the plane in the foreground. I could not get a better vantage point. When the president travels, an advance plane – sometimes two of them – brings his limousine or an entire motorcade. He has to have his own car.

We have the money to fly Trump from Washington to Columbus for dinner on Friday night for a few hours with two giant 4-engine planes.

But we don’t have the money to take care of homeless veterans.

When Bush and Obama were traveling, I didn’t mind so much. They too traveled with two or three planes everywhere they went. That’s nothing new.

But with Trump, I mind a lot.

A lot!

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Trump’s supporters keep stating that he does what he says he was going to do. They think of that as a good thing, and for many of us, that would hold true. Then they forgive him for his flaws, foibles and – now possibly crimes. “Well, all I care about is what he does, not who he is, or whether I agree with him, or like his style or choices.”

I differ. Just because somebody promises the following things does not make me agree with him:

  • Cutting taxes for the rich and for corporations at the expense of the middle class.
  • Driving the deficit up by trillions and accumulating more debt than any administration before.
  • Separating innocent children from their parents.
  • Opening up restrictions against corporate pollution.
  • Allowing asbestos back into the country and into circulation.
  • Increasing the military budget by over $70 billion, or the entire military budget of Russia.

I could go on with this list all day.

Doing what you say you’re going to do is only good when those actions are positive, legal and responsible.

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Tax Cuts and Debt

During the Obama years, Congress and the conservative talking heads blasted and ridiculed him for deficits and racking up the debt. Every day we had to listen how he was bankrupting our country, how debt was killing us. Remember when the Republican Congress was willing to shut down the government rather than raising the debt ceiling?

What happened to all that fiscal responsibility and loathing of debt?

The U.S. budget deficit this year is already 21% higher than last year. U.S. borrowing is expected to hit $329 billion in the current quarter. This will be the largest third quarter deficit in eight years and will equate to a 74% rise over last year.

Nobody seems to be complaining about that now. Are we no longer worried about our grandchildren?

Mnuchin is the bankruptcy expert. Remember, his was the guy who flourished during the 2008/2009 housing crisis. Millions of Americans lost their homes. Mnuchin got very rich.

Trump is doing to our country what he did to many of his businesses. He is running it into the ground. He is bankrupting it. When it gets nasty, he will walk away, personally much richer than before.

You can’t money-launder the United States national debt away with borrowing schemes from Russian oligarchs. So for the next 50 years, the middle class, our children and grandchildren, will be paying for the debt so the fat cats today got their tax cuts. Ross, DeVos, Mnuchin, Trump, all the kleptocrats we put in charge, are sucking the country dry, and we’re letting them.

Trump always says that our leaders have been stupid. Maybe they have been.

But right now, it’s us, the country, who are stupid.

 

 

 

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The Perjury Trap

Everyone on Trump’s side now talks about Trump talking to Mueller is a “perjury trap.” It should not be this hard to protect an innocent man. There is no perjury if the president simply tells the truth. Just do what Rick Gates did. Tell the truth!

The president has been telling the American people for a year and a half now that he is innocent and has done nothing wrong. I suggest let’s get the “witch hunt” over with. Let the president testify. He has nothing to hide, per his own statements, and if he just tells the truth, there is nothing to worry about.

Let’s do it!

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In the video above (at location 2:40) Tara Dowdell quotes Trump as stating the U.S. contributes 90% to NATO, and the actual number is only 22%. There are some misleading statistics at work here that need more analysis.

[chart credit: NATO]

There are direct and indirect contributions to NATO. Direct contributions are made to finance requirements of the Alliance that serve the interests of all 29 members. They are not the responsibility of any single member. Costs are borne collectively, often using the principle of common funding.

The chart on the left shows direct contributions by NATO country. So here is Dowdell’s 22% figure. Germany, with 14%, carries the second largest burden.

But that does not represent the correct picture, and I believe that Trump didn’t refer to direct contributions. Trump often speaks inaccurately or imprecisely, to say the least, but I am sure that when he said that the United States contributes 90% of the cost of NATO, he meant the sum of the military spending goals of each country. So let’s analyze those separately.

I have been on record many times in this blog with posts about military spending of the United States. In this post of 2016 I show that the United States spends more on defense than the next nine countries combined. Trump’s increase of military spending this year of more than $70 billion alone is more than the entire military budget of Russia.

For NATO, the member countries agreed to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense. So the chart below is another matter entirely, and it shows the defense expenditures by NATO country as a share of the GDP in percent.

[chart credit: NATO]

This chart is pulled from the NATO website where there is a wealth of information and many charts.

Here you can see that the United States is the only country that far exceeds the 2% mark. Only four countries are above this guideline. Besides the United States, those are Greece (surprisingly), the United Kingdom, and Estonia. Everyone else is below or way below 2%. Note that some countries, like Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Canada has significant increases since 2014. Trump tried to take credit for those increases recently, even though he had nothing to do with them. They were prompted by Obama pressure, and mostly by voluntary military buildup in the Baltic nations, which are close to Russia and feared Russian aggression after watching the Ukraine debacle.

Those are just percentages. When looking at the real numbers per country, the United States military spending in 2017 was $685 billion. The military spending of all other NATO countries combined was $271 billion. This means that the United States spent 71.7% of all military dollars of NATO. Not quite the 90% of Trump’s exaggeration, but a quite staggering amount.

Trump has said that “Germany owes the United States a trillion dollars for its defense.” This statement is obviously ludicrous. Nobody put a gun to the head of the United States and made it spend more on military than all other NATO countries combined. This has been going on for more than 70 years now. We all know about the $600 hammers and $10,000 toilet seats. I have been vocal in this blog about our defense budget and the price of a single F-35 fighter. Here is an interesting example about a $1200 coffee cup. The United States just loves its military and loves spending vast amounts of money on that military. Others simply can’t keep up, or don’t want to keep up.

NATO was created to form an alliance where all other members stand up for each other when one of them is attacked. After the end of World War II, that was critically important for the safety of Europe. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, I am sure it irked Russia that many of its satellites quickly switched sides and joined NATO, including Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Hungary. It didn’t look good for the Soviet ideology, and it does not look good for Russia today.

But in all those years the spirit of NATO was invoked only one time, and it was surprisingly in the defense of the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and what transpired after that.

The United States started what many consider an illegal war in Iraq, and many of the NATO allies came to support America. NATO members spent massive amounts of money and many of their soldiers died in Afghanistan and Iraq in alliance with the United States.

So who owes whom money?

The United States spends massive amounts of money on its military presence in Europe and Europe has started taking it for granted. I remember growing up as a boy in Germany in the 1960s. I lived in a city with a large American military presence. As post-war children, we never really understood why the Americans were there. To us, it had always been that way. Today, almost half of all Germans want the American army to leave. They don’t see the point anymore. I suspect the same is true in many other European countries.

Trump says that the current arrangement “is unfair to the American taxpayer.” Well, it may be unfair, but it’s not Germany sticking it to the American taxpayer, it’s the American Congress and the administration, and the past administrations, all spending way too much money on military – and thus taking value and prosperity away from the taxpayer. But then, of course, there is the military industrial complex, which feeds a large sector of our economy. Maybe war is good after all?

With our current commander-in-chief, I wonder if the United States would honor its NATO obligations if Russia were to suddenly invade the Baltic states, or Poland? Talk about a world crisis!

In the end, perhaps NATO has run its course. Trump may be on to something. Maybe it’s time to let it fizzle out.

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